High Growth Handbook: Scaling Startups From 10 to 10,000 People Hardcover – July 17, 2018
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From the Publisher
"Turn your startup into the next Google or Twitter"
"Elad Gil is one of Silicon Valley's seriously knowledgeable and battle-tested players. If you want the chance to turn your startup into the next Google or Twitter, then read this trenchant guide from someone who played key roles in the growth of these companies."
—Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, co-author of The Alliance and The Startup of You, and host of the podcast Masters of Scale
"Straight-shooting insights on complex topics"
"Elad eschews trite management aphorisms in favor of pragmatic and straight-shooting insights on complex topics like managing a board of directors, executing functional re-organizations with as little trauma as possible, and everything in-between."
—Richard Costolo, former CEO of Twitter and serial entrepreneur
"Learnings for the next generation of entrepreneurs"
"Elad first invested in Airbnb when we were less than 10 people and provided early advice on scaling the company. This book shares these learnings for the next generation of entrepreneurs."
—Nathan Blecharczyk, cofounder of Airbnb, Chief Strategy Officer, and Chairman of Airbnb China
"Every useful lesson about building companies in a single, digestible book"
"Elad jam-packs every useful lesson about building and scaling companies into a single, digestible book. My only gripe is that he didn't write this when we were in the early days of Box as it would have saved my a** countless times."
—Aaron Levie, cofounder and CEO of Box
About the author
Elad Gil is an entrepreneur, operating executive, and investor or advisor to private companies such as Airbnb, Coinbase, Checkr, Gusto, Instacart, OpenDoor, Pinterest, Square, Stripe, Wish. He is cofounder and chairman at Color Genomics. He was the VP of Corporate Strategy at Twitter, where he also ran product (Geo, Search) and operational teams (M&A and Corporate Development). Elad joined Twitter via the acquisition of MixerLabs, where he was co-founder and CEO. Elad spent many years at Google, where he started the mobile team-involved in all aspects of getting it up and running. He was involved with three acquisitions (including the Android team) and was the original product manager for Google Mobile Maps. Prior to Google, Elad had product management and market-seeding roles at a number of Silicon Valley companies. Elad received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has degrees in Mathematics and Biology from the University of California, San Diego.
About the publisher
Stripe Press publishes books about economic and technological advancement. Stripe partners with hundreds of thousands of the world’s most innovative businesses—organizations that will shape the world of tomorrow. These businesses are the result of many different inputs. Perhaps the most important ingredient is "ideas." Stripe Press highlights ideas that we think can be broadly useful. Some books contain entirely new material, some are collections of existing work reimagined, and others are republications of previous works that have remained relevant over time or have renewed relevance today.
Other titles by Stripe Press:
- The Dream Machine by M. Mitchell Waldrop
- Stubborn Attachments by Tyler Cowen
- Revolt of the Public by Martin Gurri
- An Elegant Puzzle by Will Larson
- Get Together by Bailey Richardson, Kevin Huynh, and Kai Elmer Sotto
- The Making of Prince of Persia by Jordan Mechner
- The Art of Doing Science and Engineering by Richard W. Hamming
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"Elad eschews trite management aphorisms in favor of pragmatic and straight-shooting insights on complex topics." --Dick Costolo, former CEO of Twitter and serial entrepreneur
"Elad first invested in Airbnb when we were less than 10 people and provided early advice on scaling the company. This book shares these learnings for the next generation of entrepreneurs." --Nathan Blecharczyk, cofounder of Airbnb, Chief Strategy Officer, and Chairman of Airbnb China
About the Author
Previously, he was the VP of Corporate Strategy at Twitter, where he also ran various product (Geo, Search) and other operational teams (M&A and Corporate Development). Elad joined Twitter via the acquisition of MixerLabs, a company where he was co-founder and CEO. MixerLabs ran GeoAPI, one of the early developer-centric platform infrastructure products. Elad spent many years at Google, where he started the mobile team and was involved in all aspects of getting that team up and running. He was involved with three acquisitions (including the Android team) and was the original product manager for Google Mobile Maps and other key mobile products.
Prior to Google, Elad had product management and market-seeding roles at a number of Silicon Valley companies. He also worked at McKinsey & Co. Elad received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has degrees in Mathematics and Biology from the University of California, San Diego.
- Item Weight : 2 pounds
- Hardcover : 344 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1732265100
- ISBN-13 : 978-1732265103
- Publisher : Stripe Press (July 17, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #21,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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But as a product, I suggest avoiding the hardcover version. The typography is so small that I can’t just lean back and read it. I recognize it’s odd to focus on such a thing for a book review, but this fact made the book unusable for me.
Elad recommends utilizing the book as a reference, and I think it would be most useful to those who read sections personally relevant to their careers, since reading this book in its entirety is a bit like reading about how to win the Super Bowl, where few have the inherent capacity to run the playbook and team to a championship ring.
The following provides a brief synopsis of a portion of my notes, including at least one idea shared by each interviewee, with unattributed notes derived from Elad's insights shared during interview interludes, while trying not to provide more information than I as an author would want given away about my books:
- A founder and chief executive, in order to focus on scaling the organization, rather than constantly taking on work that may be of interest and in an area of personal expertise, acts as a router and facilitator, sending items to the most appropriate individuals who are then accountable for them.
- A founder, when hiring, can reduce bias and failings among interviewers, and hire top people in an unfamiliar field in conjunction with preparation assistance from someone who has a track record of success in that field, by writing components including a job specification, interview questions along with expected answers, specifications of work product to create, and an evaluation matrix, that is used with all candidates
- A structured standardized onboarding process retains and maximize effectiveness of new employees.
- If a founder has a board, seats are generally assigned permanently to an investment firm rather than investor, and members should meet criteria detailed in a written specification, identify how value will be consistently provided to the founder, and must be aligned with the founder on vision and goals, or it could result metaphorically in a divorce where you have to make steep payments or lose the kids and the house.
- Culture, including shared and reinforced values and vision, drives cohesion, recruiting, and retention.
- An experienced Chief Operating Officer hired at the appropriate time can execute the founders vision and take responsibility for areas of the business where the founder doesn't have interest or provide unique value.
- Any reorganizations should be thoughtfully researched and structured, but executed swiftly, assigning functional areas to executives based on factors including bandwidth and skill.
- Business development people should have a record of being personally responsible for deal results, with the ability to understand and negotiate complex and favorable deal terms.
- A seasoned executive with specific functional expertise can bring in processes and structures that enhance scaling and team effectiveness, and can be identified in conjunction with existing outside top performers in that role.
- Product managers grow a product by combining research of customers, competitors, and distribution channels, to develop a vision and strategy, synthesized into a product specification, which is then communicated to -- and executed upon through collaboration with -- a cross functional team.
- Founder stock sales are important for investors to allow when an investor wants the focus to be a large long-term payout, while employee stock sales should be limited in total dollar value to prevent a demotivating lifestyle change.
- Investors generally specialize in company stages based on the ability to meet capital requirements and offer stage appropriate expertise.
- Acquisitions can be done for product, revenue, team, or synergy, where the valuation benefit to the acquirer should exceed the purchase price of the company.
- Naval Ravikant explains that venture capital has traditionally been a bundle of money, control, and advice, but founders should attempt to decouple them, by obtaining money without offering control, and getting advice from the best possible people. If a founder has a board, the founder must personally manage and synchronize the board, the board must be small in number to maintain information synchronization and minimize founder time consumption, members should be individuals the founder wants to work with for the life of the company, members must be there to support not run the company, and investment terms should allow for board seats to be removed otherwise.
- Marc Andreessen emphasized that scaling involves recalibrating focus from product to distribution, and hiring people suitable for the next 6-18 months, rather than executives whose recent experience doesn't match current needs.
- Aaron Levie emphasized that scaling requires a CEO recognize that not every problem needs to be solved personally, just that every problem needs to be solved, and that people should be hired that allow for the founder to focus on providing his or her unique value.
- Ruchi Sanghvi explained that if and when hypergrowth occurs, it's fine to temporarily patch problems, rather than making permanent corrections, in order to maintain hypergrowth, and to hire people needed to maintain that growth, rather than those might be best in the long term since requirements may change during growth.
- Mariam Naficy emphasized allocating resources to product market verticals based on expected growth, while recognizing that complexity can inhibit scale.
- Sam Altman stated the leading cause of scaling failure among founders is a failure to properly hire then delegate.
- Claire Hughes Johnson emphasizes weekly 1 on 1 meetings with each direct report, provides a written guide to working with her, and recommends a founder prepare a guide for working with him or her specifying areas of interest that leverage the founder's time, and that for decision making to scale it should be mapped by type of decision type rather than hierarchy.
- Patrick Collison emphasized that culture should be collectively steered to support company success, clearly communicated to prospective employees, current employees should embrace the culture as it changes or leave, and to maintain culture when hiring for satellite offices, the lead is as important as immediate reports, and interviewing and onboarding should include relationship building at headquarters.
- Shannon Stubo Brayton emphasized the importance of managing internal and external communication consistency to maintain brand identity.
- Erin Fors emphasized that public relations and communications create credibility, communicate purpose, humanize the company, improve recruiting and morale, and obtain clients when the limiting factor is brand awareness.
- Joelle Emerson explained that diverse teams enhance innovation, that the limiting factor in identifying diverse candidates is hiring through employees' networks, thus requiring external outreach, and then the limiting factor in extending offers to diverse candidates is not having a consistent structured interview process to filter out subjective bias, and then the limiting factor in retaining diverse candidates is not maintaining an office environment welcoming to all.
- Keith Rabois emphasized that executives should be hired who are known to attract talent, are able to retain talent by being someone talent can learn from, develop and execute a hiring plan that minimizes operational ramp up bottlenecks, have a number of direct reports that allows weekly one on one meetings with each, and facilitate collaborative weekly team meetings, and separately explains that preparing a company to go public creates discipline around operations and finances, and a company can go public when achieving predictable quarterly results.
- Hemant Taneja explained that because important services in society have been scaled to the breaking point, including healthcare, education, and financial institutions, it has created the opportunity to build new socially beneficial technologies that scale while maintaining quality by being built to support individual users with individual success metrics.
Elad's interviews with Marc Andreessen, Ruchi Sanghvi, & Mariam Naficy were particularly great.
Highly recommend this book to all founders who have hit, or who aspire to hit, product-market fit.
(Disclaimer: most of the advice in this book is relevant only to companies who are post-product-market fit, which is probably fewer than 1% of "startups".)
With that lens, I’ve read this book end to end and have learned a few takeaways that have fundamentally changed how I think about startups: (1) most founders I know think very deeply about building product for great markets, but we don’t spend nearly as much energy on thinking about building great channels; (2) it’s important to build dynamic boards that evolve over time depending on their ability to offer value to the company; (3) hire specifically for the next 12-18 months during the hyperstage growth periods of a company; (4) it can be a competitive advantage to RAISE prices rather than to lower prices.
Oh and lastly - don’t hand out envelopes full of cash or buy giant chrome pandas.